HARRIET Hare has picked up an award since she last appeared on a North Yorkshire stage.

At the third annual Great British Pantomime Awards, held at the New Theatre, Wimbledon, on April 28, she won the Best Principal Girl prize for her title role in Jack And The Beanstalk at Harrogate Theatre. Yes, principal girl, not principal boy, because this Jack was very much a young woman, not a man played by a woman.

From Monday, Harriet returns to Yorkshire, this time to play Mollie Ralston in the latest tour of The Mousetrap, on its third visit to the Grand Opera House, York, after Agatha Christie’s whodunnit played there in May 2013 and February 2016.

Harriet has been haring around the country since late January, hopping swiftly from Harrogate’s panto to Gareth Armstrong’s tour of Christie’s West End record-breaker, starring alongside Gwyneth Strong’s Mrs Boyle; David Alcock’s Mr Paravacini; Geoff Arnold’s Detective Sgt Trotter; Nick Biadon’s Giles Ralston; Lewis Chandler ‘s Christopher Wren, John Griffiths’s Major Metcalf and Saskia Vaigncourt-Strallen’s Miss Caswell.

“The last thing I did in York was The Pirates Of Penzance for [the late] Bev Jones, so it’s lovely to be back in my home city,” says the York-born Harriet, who attended Queen Margaret’s School in Escrick and did her A-level studies at St Peter’s in York before heading to London at 18.

“Playing the Grand Opera House will be wonderful as it has a special place in my heart; it’s where I got hooked on theatre.”

She joined The Mousetrap touring cast having seen Christie’s murder mystery, like so many before her, in London. “I saw it in town with my mum, who’s the biggest Agatha Christie fan ever, and I just thought, ‘I need to be in this’ and I knew I wanted to play Mollie Ralston... and that was all of five years ago!”

Why Mollie? “She has everything you’d want in a character, starting off with domestic scenes, and then she gets into murky waters. She’s at the heart of the play,” says Harriet.

“She’s the quintessential Fifties’ housewife, but then you realise there’s more to her than that. She becomes a pillar of strength, which is a surprise to her and all those around her, so it’s lovely to play someone who’s very definitely not a wallflower.”

Next week’s performances will bring back memories of cutting her teeth on the York stage. “I did all the amateur dramatics I could in York,” says Harriet. “Bev Jones was the man who got me into theatre; he put me in his Schools’ production of Les Miserables when I was 14, when I played the grown-up Cosette, and I was hooked!

“I learned everything from Bev; he taught me all the stage craft I needed to know; he instilled such professionalism in all of us. We just lived for the rehearsals each Thursday when we were doing the shows.”

After appearing in such roles as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady at St Peter’s and The Slaughter Of The Innocents in a wagon production of the York Mystery Plays, Harriet attended a degree course in acting at the Mountview Academy of Performing Arts in London, since when she has performed professionally regularly and done voiceover work too.

“With every part I’ve got, I’ve had that feeling when you just know it’s right,” she says. “But then I’m also a believer in fate, and if everything is aligned, it will come off.”

Now she is stretching out in a new direction too. “I’ll soon be completing my training as a yoga and reflexology teacher,” Harriet reveals.

Will Harriet’s mum be catching The Mousetrap next week? “She’s already seen it twice on tour, and she’ll probably be coming to it twice in York,” she says. “She might even have booked the stalls out for me!”

l The Mousetrap, Grand Opera House, York, Monday to Saturday. Box office: 0844 871 3024 or at atgtickets.com/york

Charles Hutchinson

Did you know?

First seen in Nottingham in 1952, starring Richard Attenborough and his wife Sheila Sim, The Mousetrap became the world’s longest-running stage production after its West End transfer to The Ambassadors in 1952 and St Martin’s in 1973. It has played there ever since in a record-breaking run, chalking up more than 27,500 performances in London. The murder mystery’s first ever tour opened in 2012; from Monday, it visits York’s Grand Opera House for the third time in six years.